Mary Louise (Laning) Stewart, age 104, passed away on June 21st at The Gilbert Residence in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
She was born in Cleveland, Ohio, December 21, 1917, and moved to Norwalk, Ohio, in 1929 with her parents, Mildred (Monnett) and Sheldon R. Laning. She graduated from Norwalk High School in 1934 and from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1939.
During World War II she worked as a draftsman at Ohio Tool Company, Cleveland, Ohio followed by a career on the editorial staff of the Cleveland News daily. On September 23, 1948, she became the first woman to report on a big-league baseball game, Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox, in their climb to the Cleveland Indians’ World Series championship.
She was married in 1951 to Dr. John S. Stewart, and in 1967 they moved their family to Norwalk, where she managed the Law Abstract Publishing Company until retiring in 1980. A descendant of the Monnett family, which settled in Knox County before 1800, and five Firelands pioneer families. Beatty, Griffin, Laning, Sheldon and Wood, she became a life member and trustee of the Firelands Historical Society. A dedicated museum volunteer, she assembled special exhibits centered on different eras of local history and also served as editor of Firelands Pioneer Third Series.
She was at various times a board member of Erie-Huron-Richland County CAC, Norwalk Area Food Bank, and Sally deForest Chapter NSDAR, and member of the Little Garden Club, Firelands Area College Women, Young Men’s Library and Reading Room Association, Huron County Chapter OGS, Downtown Area Architectural Review Board, Firelands Area Computer Club and Lakeside Heritage Society. She was a student of Tai Chi at the Norwalk Recreation Center. In 2010 the Norwalk Reflector named her Citizen of the Year. On her 100th birthday in 2017 the Mayor of Norwalk declared December 21st as Mary Stewart Day.
She was a lifelong member of St. Paul Episcopal Church, where services will be held Friday, July 1st at 10:30 am. Interment will be at 3:00 pm in Mansfield City Cemetery. Calling hours will be held at Walker-Eastman-Heydinger Funeral Home, 98 W. Main St., in Norwalk, on Thursday, June 30th from 4:00 to 8:00 pm.
She is survived by daughters Martha Stewart of Cleveland and Laura Perez of Ypsilanti, son and daughter-in-law John (Mary Fox) Stewart of Bloomington, Indiana, son-in-law James M. Connolly of Novato, California, grandchildren Lori and William (Paula) Derby, Elizabeth Borda, Charisse, Keith (Hannah) and Martha Connolly, John and Betsy Stewart and five great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, a daughter Mary Connolly, a grandson John (Lori) Derby, and a great-grandchild Mary Elizabeth Borda, lost in infancy.
Memorial gifts may be made to St. Paul Episcopal Church, the Salvation Army, Firelands Historical Society, Arbor Hospice, or the charity of one’s choice. Online expressions of sympathy may be made by visiting: www.walkereastmanheydingerfh.com